New Civilization News: Deep Ecology    
 Deep Ecology1 comment
24 Feb 2002 @ 05:26, by Istvan H

Deep Ecology

"From the point of view of deep ecology, what is wrong with our culture is that it offers us an inaccurate description of the self. It depicts the personal self in competition with and in opposition to nature... But if we destroy our environment, we are destroying what is in fact our larger self". - Freya Matthews

Deep Ecology is a worldview and associated way of life grounded in the new cosmology. It branches out of the awareness that the environment is not "out there" separate from us, but that we are part of vast cosmological, geological and biological cycles which are concentric and interrelated. My own body, for example, is constantly exchanging matter, energy, and information with the "environment". The atoms and molecules of my body now, what I collectively call "me", are not the same ones that made up my body a year ago. Every five days I get a new stomach lining. I get a new liver every two months. My skin is replaced every six weeks. Every year, 98% of my body is replaced. The molecules that are continually becoming "me", come from the air I breathe and the food I eat. Before that they were part of fish and snakes, lizards and trees, birds and humans, and all that we eat. I give out as I get. It makes little sense, then, to overly identify with my "ego" self, for that is only a very small part of "me". My larger body is the body of Life itself. Earth is my larger self. This is the essence of deep ecology.

"If the Rhine, the Yellow, the Mississippi rivers are changed to poison, so too are the rivers in the trees, in the birds, and in the humans changed to poison, almost simultaneously. There is only one river on the planet Earth and it has multiple tributaries, many of which flow through the veins of sentient creatures". - Thomas Berry

"A living body is not a fixed thing but a flowing event, like a flame or a whirlpool: the shape alone is stable. The substance is a stream of energy going in at one end and out at the other. We are temporarily identifiable wiggles in a stream that enters us in the form of light, heat, air, water, milk... It goes out as gas and excrement - and also as semen, babies, talk, politics, war, poetry and music". - Alan Watts

Through the lenses of deep ecology we can begin to see clearly the nature and serious magnitude of our global ecological crisis. Consider the following parable:

Once upon a time, a group of brain cells debated the relative importance of the rest of the body. Some suggested that the body was dispensable. "After all", said one, "we are the only cells in the body that know that we know things"."Only we can reflect on our dreams", said another, "so we must be the only part of the body that is spiritual, right?". "Why just think of the awesome accomplishments we are capable of!". And they all thought... thinking that they were separate from and superior to the rest of body. Occasionally a brain cell would realize that it was one with the entire body; but it was usually martyred trying to tell the others about this good news. You see, the brain cells had convinced themselves that the Great Life lived outside the body and could be known only through their dreams. They believed that they were destined to leave the body and dwell in a place called heaven. They also assumed that the rest of the body was not really alive at all, that it was an inexhaustible supply of "resources" for the benefit of the brain. Needless to say, the health of the body worsened by the day and was soon on the verge of dying.

"A cancer cell is a normal cell disconnected from its genetic memory, cut off from the wisdom of millions of years of evolutionary development. It doesn't cooperate in harmony with the rest of the body. It experiences itself as separate from the body, overpopulates, and consumes the organism which supports it. Cancer eventually kills itself by consuming its own environment". - Brian Patrick

The message of deep ecology is timely news for humanity, and for the planet as a whole. It offers reconnection to our genetic memory and billions of years of evolutionary wisdom. Its application can empower us to live in synergistic cooperation and harmony with the rest of the body of Life. We can begin to experience a harmonious connection alien to us when we thought of ourselves as separate from and superior to our larger body. We can begin to experience a consciousness of heavenly rapport with all of life.

Timely as it may be, the message of deep ecology must be taught and integrated into our society on a massive scale if our grandchildren and theirs are to be saved from a toxic and literal hell on Earth. It must be put into fervent daily practice in every area of our lives. The planet is calling us to create communities that live and love ecologically. This is essential for the salvation of millions of species, especially our own.

"To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, nor even to found a school, but to so love wisdom as to live according to its dictates, a life of simplicity, magnanimity and trust. It is to solve some of the problems of life, not only theoretically, but practically". - Henry David Thoreau

"The main task of the immediate future is to assist in activating the inter-communion of all living and non-living beings in the emerging Ecozoic era of Earth development. What is most needed in order to accomplish this task is the great art of intimacy and distance: the capacity of beings to be totally present to each other while further affirming and enhancing the differences and identities of each". - Thomas Berry

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1 comment

20 Dec 2002 @ 06:54 by altciv : Thank you
Istvan -

Thanks for your important perspective.

We can replace our harmful, addictive, civilized behaviors with healthy alternatives. These alternatives can and must include feelings, thoughts, things, and, in the broadest sense, spiritual values.

While we can keep the good parts, we need to find and use alternatives to what each of us sees as our negative civilized addictions. I posted a free program based on groups in which each individual inventories his or her unhealthy thoughts or things and then, with or without the group, brain-storms for good alternatives and unexpected consequences. The group members than implement these changes, share the results with the group, and get support from the group.

All civilizations can use alternatives to whatever they have that is harmful,
and this program would need to spread rapidly to avert more disasters.

Bill Clift  

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